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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Vol. 72, Number 7 (May 1971)

Weaver, John C.
Fellow alumni of Wisconsin,   pp. 25-26


Page 25


The question posed by the Special Report in this edition of Wisconsin Alumnus
magazine is a disturbing one: Are Americans Losing Faith in their Colleges?
The
very fact that the question is raised and requires a response is unsettling
to all of
us who place a high value on the educational experience.
  Nevertheless, events of the past decade have forcefully reminded us that
institu-
dons of higher education, like knowledge itself, are subject to continual
critical
analysis and must be adjusted in accordance with the demands of changing
conditions.
  During the past several weeks, I have had the opportunity to talk with
hundreds
of Wisconsin men and women, and my overriding impression is that we Americans
basically do believe in education like no other people in history. I think
the con-
cern at the moment really does not reflect a loss of faith in the educational
idea;
it is indignation over the perception that some young people have been
abusing their educational opportunity and that perhaps educational   W
institutions have been too slow in taking a firm stand against those
who seek to capture the universities and are willing to destroy academic
freedom in the process. As members of the University family it is our responsibility
-and not an easy task-to transform that indignation into understanding and
confidence in the University's mission.
  Our University is a living thing---capable of responding to new stimuli
and of
adapting to altered conditions. When its "nerve endings" were scraped
by abrasive
challenges to the University's integrity, important changes were set in motion.
They include: renewed emphasis on undergraduate teaching and learning; intensi-
lied attention to curricular revision; new course offerings in environmental,
urban
and integrated liberal studies; programs for and about the disadvantaged;
course
restructuring that brings focus to contemporary and emerging social problems;
significantly increased interaction between administrators, faculty and students
on
all campuses; and the establishment of clear guidelines for student conduct
and
refinement of disciplinary procedures, coupled with the demonstrated determination
to preserve both academic freedom and the orderly conditions in which it
may
flourish.
These and other initiatives within the University have generated a variety
of
positive reactions from students, faculty, alumni and interested citizens.
There is,
I am convinced, a subtle but inexorable renewal of "faith" in the
University of
Wisconsin.
  The signs of renewal are, for the most part, intangible; such things as
an atmos-
phere of mutual trust and confidence and an emerging spirit of optimism within
the University community. There are other indications, however, which are
so
obvious they are easily overlooked. Enrollments, for example, continue to
grow,
thereby demonstrating the unflagging interest of Wisconsin youth in the unparalleled
educational opportunities made available by the University.
Alumni have shown their interest and affection for the University through
their
participation in the WAA. Life Membership enrollments in the Association
lead
it such groups in the nation.
Private voluntary financial support, which helps raise the University to
a level
Of excellence, reached a record level last year. Gifts, grants and endowments
from
lulini, foundations, business enterprises and other individuals amounted
to
$17,297,336 in 1969-70. This total is more than three and one-half million
dollars greater than was received from these sources five years earlier.
Most
Usuredly, an investment of this magnitude represents confidence in the University
Ad its mission.
Are Americans losing faith in their colleges? No, indeed! Not if the University
of Wisconsin and its experience are an example. The University was
reated by an act of faith-the Wisconsin Constitution-and is renewed  S  
i
%0usands of times each day by the acts of faith of students, faculty    
1
,4d citizens who rely on the University for a multitude of services and
)POrtunities.
The alumni and citizenry of Wisconsin do have faith in our University; and
   great University of Wisconsin is going to do everything possible to deserve
   repay that faith.
   Fellow
   Alumni
   of
isconsin:
ncerely,
  John C. Weaver
  President
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